Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Species Orchid, Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, Adder's Violet, Hairy Goodyera
Goodyera pubescens

Family: Orchidaceae (or-kid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Goodyera (GOOD-yer-uh) (Info)
Species: pubescens (pew-BES-senz) (Info)

Synonym:Epipactis pubescens
Synonym:Epipactis willdenovii
Synonym:Neottia pubescens
Synonym:Orchiodes pubescens
Synonym:Peramium pubescens

One vendor has this plant for sale.

18 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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10 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Feb 7, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The evergreen foliage is beautifully patterned, like a snakeskin. The plants are small (rosettes are 3-5" across) and reveal their beauty only on close inspection. The leaves are smooth and not hairy---it's the inflorescence that's pubescent.

I first saw this in secondary woodland in Maryland, growing on a north-facing hillside in leafy woodland duff over red clay. The overstory was white pine, beech, and oak. In Maryland it blooms in June. The flowers are small and only exciting when seen close up.

The leaf rosettes grow from a wandering rhizome, usually forming loose colonies of well-separated rosettes. They only rarely form close clumps.

These used to be used in terrariums for winter decoration---when I was a child and didn't know any better, I potted one up for the winter. It lasted till after it bloomed the next June, then rotted. I suspect that, like almost all hardy plants, it won't survive indefinitely without a regular cold dormancy.

In any case, this is becoming increasingly uncommon in the wild due to land development. When looking for plants for purchase, make sure that they are nursery-propagated and not just "nursery grown". The latter usually means that they've been wild-collected and only grown in the nursery long enough to find a buyer.

I've only tried to grow this once in the garden. It persisted a year but did not thrive.

I believe that, like most orchids, growing this from seed is difficult and requires specialized treatment and equipment (and many years).

Positive plant_man_dan On Dec 21, 2011, plant_man_dan from Framingham, MA wrote:

I have a number of these growing naturally here in Massachusetts and I've seen them growing naturally as far north as Milford, Maine. I grow them in outdoor beds here for planting purposes, the confusion in watering needs is because they are one of those plants that truly want the ever allusive 'moist but well drained' soils. They will tolerate dry sandy soils when grown in very shady sites but will be happier with a site that gets moisture regularly but never stays wet. Sandy slopes under a mixture of pines and oaks tends to work be best. I have seen them growing quite happily under pines in dry (rarely moist) slopes. I do not believe they will grow in consistently moist sites but I have never tried this myself. Hope this helps, this plant is well worth the extra effort.

Neutral tickmagnet On May 22, 2011, tickmagnet from Lewiston, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

Saw this plant for the first time today in the woods behind my mothers house. A striking black/green colored leaf. They were growing in rotted logs that moss had already long overgrown. Its been extremely wet here lately and I think thats what has brought them 'out'. I was thinking of trying to move some into her garden, rotted wood and all. think this will work?

Positive dave12122 On Jan 17, 2011, dave12122 from East Haddam, CT wrote:

This plant grows in zone 6b with minimal protection in winter. Likes a mixture of pumice and pine needles, with a minimum of organics. Doesn't spread very readily for me, but doesn't die back either. Usually blooms in August, but the blooms are no big deal, and unless you need seed, I would pluck the new bloom stalks out.

Positive samhain73 On Sep 19, 2010, samhain73 from Browns Mills, NJ wrote:

I have a few of these plants growing in my garden. I live in the Pine Barrens of NJ. Anyone familiar with it knows the soil is sandy, dry and acidic. After an extremely hot, dry summer I'm pleased to say the Goodyera plants are doing well and even spreading. One was eaten by a critter but sprouted new healthy leaves. They are in fairly constant shade under an oak tree with very sandy soil that dries out pretty good in summer. I've seen them growing in the wild down the street in the woods and they are also in sandy, dry soil. The same conditions in which Cypripedium acaule and Gaultheria procumbens grows in. I've also seen them growing in moister, humus-rich soils.

Positive 1lolita1 On Aug 27, 2009, 1lolita1 from Elgin, IL wrote:

I'm very fond of this plant, regardless of the work it takes to winter it over in northern Illinois. I get my plants from a nursery on Dave's Garden, some I give away as gifts but I've also kept them as houseplants for years. To winter-over: cover with 4-5 inches of leaves as soon as you get a freeze, usually October. The ground must be moist; water if you need to. I then dump the dirt from all of my pots of outdoor annuals on top of that. You can use a couple of big bags of topsoil or blackdirt. Don't forget to rake it all back in the spring! ( The dirt can go back in pots for summer annuals )Up here, the last week of April is a good time, just keep an eye on the weather forecast. Like I said, I love this plant, and it's the only native wildflower I know of that will thrive and bloom as a houseplant.

Neutral hsears On Apr 5, 2008, hsears from Chestertown, MD wrote:

On April second, nine plants in two batches broke through the leaf litter of an old tractor trail in mixed woods, swamp maple and Virginia pine. They are in heavy shade, in what would be moist soil most the year except during severe droughts. The site is near Millington on Maryland's Eastern shore.

Positive CutNGlass On Feb 3, 2008, CutNGlass from Hendersonville, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

Native Plant. Found in numerous locations on our property (mountains of Western North Carolina). Located by looking for the stalks poking up through leaves covering forest floor. Pulling back natural mulch layer of leaves the plant will be exposed. Make sure that a good layer of leaves is covering it up in the winter! When the stalk has to wind its way up through the natural layer of leaf covering, it will be twisted and have appearance of rattlesnake. After a few days of being completely uncovered, the stalk will straighten out.

Positive JerryCopeland On Oct 4, 2004, JerryCopeland from Santa Maria, CA wrote:

Goodyera pubescens
This is a very easy hardy terrestrial orchid to grow. My
experiences are growing it in pots. The most important aspects of a successful cultivation of this species is:
a woodsy but porous soil that has excellent water retentive
qualities but does not become soggy and the use of untreated water, preferably steam distilled or deionized
through double reverse osmosis. It requires shade but can
tolerate either very early or very late sun. If grown in the
ground then I definitely recommend that unless your growing conditions already replicate the type of habitat this plant comes from that a 18" square furrow dug to 18" is made
and remove all the soil from this furrow. Prepare a soil mix using commercial leaf mold if available, fine shredded bark as is available for commercial orchid mixes especially for paphiopedilums, perlite, and peat moss. I would prepare the perlite and peat moss at 1:1 (be sure to work with peat moss that is damp and not dry at all). then add this to a 1:1 combo of the leaf mold and the shredded bark. This should provide an appropriate mix for successful cultivation. You may wish to topdress with a 1:1 mix of peat moss and the bark or the leaf mold (whichever looks ok to your tastes). If in the ground only water with a fine mist sprinkling can twice a week using a gallon of water each time. Do not overwater.
For pot cultivation using a comparable mix as above plant
the plants with the roots in the media and the stems at the
surface of the mix. cover lightly with a topdressing. water until water comes out of the bottom of the pot. Place your plant in your selected shady spot. I recommend misting the plant everyday at least once depending upon your humidity
levels. I mist every two or three hours except when I am asleep! We have low humidity here. Water twice weekly.
Here the plants will do well outside year round. Do not let
the potted plants freeze. The ground planted plants should
be mulched unless under a deciduous tree or a pine to protect the stems from freezing. Good luck.

Neutral MN_Darren On Aug 11, 2004, MN_Darren from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

Tricky to grow, but rewarding, I am confused by conflicting recommendations for watering. Some say dry, some say wet. I don't believe they like it dry. I have four of them purchased from a nursery in Virginia. One seems to have disappeared, one is really healthy and blooming and the other two are kind of lame looking. They have nicely acidic soil, but I suspect that watering is the problem. Also, the pine bark mulch I have used may be too large. It tends to cover them up if I don't keep an eye on them.

Positive Toxicodendron On Oct 6, 2003, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

A beautiful little plant - a native orchid, quite rare here in Missouri. Grows slowly to form colonies. Protected from collecting at the only site where I have seen it, and probably for good reason...must be fussy about growing conditions or it would be seen in more places. I read that people used to collect it for use in terrariums, but there are many more plants than can be bought to use instead, such as Fittonia (Nerve Plant). I saw a very similar plant in Colorado, Goodyera oblongifolia.

Positive woodspirit1 On Aug 9, 2003, woodspirit1 from Lake Toxaway, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have not found it to like dry, sandy soil. It grows naturally here in deep shade and there is red clay under the humusy top soil here in the mtns. of NC. Nor is it very rare here. I plan to try a little culture with it and see how it responds. Will post here later.
This remark is on 6/18/06. I had a rehab done to my house and found building materials laying on top of my rattlesnake plantain! I moved them quickly and put a marker up. I did give them a little Black Kow and they have spread more than expected. I see they are beginning to put up bloom stalks. Smiling here.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 19, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Goodyera pubescens is spreads by rhizomes, but is very slow to spread. It is native to the U.S. It typically flowers from July - August. It prefers light shade to fully sun and acidic soil.

Positive patlet On May 23, 2002, patlet wrote:

This plant has been found growing wild in Zone 5. Historically the plants' roots and leaves were used medicinally in the treatment of tuberculosis. It is very rare and should not be harvested.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Madison, Alabama
East Haddam, Connecticut
Cornelia, Georgia
Frankfort, Illinois
Lewiston, Maine
Litchfield, Maine
Chestertown, Maryland
Gwynn Oak, Maryland
Rockville, Maryland
Framingham, Massachusetts
Midland, Michigan
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Browns Mills, New Jersey
Clyde, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
Spruce Pine, North Carolina
Sylva, North Carolina
Glouster, Ohio
Granville, Ohio
Mill City, Oregon
Veneta, Oregon
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Pickens, South Carolina
Crossville, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Viola, Tennessee
Beaverdam, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Waupaca, Wisconsin

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